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Wicked Cool Overlooked Books: Boy Heaven by Laura Kasischke

Colleen from Chasing Ray has created many monthly or seasonal features, all of which have catchy names and intriguing acronyms. On the first Monday of every month, she posts about a Wicked Cool Overlooked Book - a book she enjoyed that she wishes others would pick up - and invites others to post their picks as well.

"It might be YA or adult, or even a picture book," she says. "All genres are welcome . . . My goal is to write about books that few others (anywhere) seem to have noticed. This is something I think newspaper reviewers do not have the time and space (or possibly inclination) to do - but lit bloggers can."

My choice for this month's WCOB (which I pronounce Wickob!) is Boy Heaven by Laura Kasischke. It came out in hardcover last August, yet I've only read one review of it other than my own.

Laura Kasischke is a published poet and author, and I may quote her during Poetry Friday this week. Boy Heaven, her first teen novel, was the first work of hers that I read. I haven't read her other novels yet, but I have her next YA novel, Feathered, on my to-read list.

If you read my blog regularly or frequently come into my store, you know how strongly I urge people not to judge books by their covers. Customers have told me that Boy Heaven looks and sounds like a teen romance novel. Oh (drawn out to four syllables, Oh-ho-ho!, but not four, because then I'd sound like Santa Claus) how wrong you are, assumptive audience! This is the stuff of urban legends. This is a creepy little thing that gets into your brain and still messes with you a year after you've read it!

Here's my original review of it, written in 2006:

One afternoon, three girls sneak away from cheerleading camp, planning to drive to a nearby lake. The teenagers never quite make it there. While at the gas station, the beautiful driver - Kristy Sweetland, the narrator of the tale - attracts the unwanted attention of two boys.

On the drive back, the girls attempt to lose the boys, but the narrator's best friend, Desiree, is an insatiable flirt. She prompts them to do something that only increases the boys' interest. They do eventually lose the guys and head back to camp, thinking nothing of it.

As the days go on, two of the girls think they see the boys spying on them, and one of the girls receives a threatening note in her bunk. The situation affects each girl differently: Kristy reflects on past events that have shaped her, such as the loss of her father; Desiree starts a risky relationship with a cute lifeguard; and the third girl, Kristi "with an I," becomes withdrawn and anorexic.

The vast majority of Boy Heaven is told in first person from Kristy's point of view. However, the book begins and ends in third person as the story is told around a campfire, furthering its set-up as an urban legend.

Fans of Lois Duncan ought to pick this book up. The writing style is fresh, the plot intricate, and the settings and characters quite detailed, making Boy Heaven one of this summer's most intriguing pageturners.

Due to content, Boy Heaven is for older teens and adults.

Boy Heaven will be available in paperback in April 2008, right as Kasischke's second release from HarperTeen, Feathered, is released in hardcover.
Tags: books, reviews, wcob
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